The Rehearsal Dinner

The night before my cousin Lisa’s gorgeous wedding, the bridesmaids and groomsmen took a joyful walk down a flowerless aisle.


practice makes perfect!

We spent about forty-five minutes reviewing the ceremony. People were everywhere, decorations were nowhere and the excitement for the upcoming day was palpable.

The next evening, when my cousin Jason and I received the cue, we walked arm in arm to our assigned spots just beside the beautiful chuppah. We were paving the way for a magnificent bride.


What a difference from the night before!

Nearly four years later, and two months closer to walking down my own aisle, another rehearsal dinner is coming together. Much to my surprise, our dinner will not make use of a rehearsal. The wedding party will review all details of the aisle on the big day, rather than the night before. Apparently, I’m excused from the madness.

Our rehearsal dinner will take place at the hotel where our guests will stay, as opposed to the chateau. The short yet sweet evening will be filled with food, laughter and toasts. There will be no learning to line up. Leaving all instructions until an hour or so before the ceremony is a bit risky, right? I thought so too.

A couple things for brides to consider when planning a pre-wedding dinner:

Don’t make your wedding party rehearse speeches. 

I’ve learned that the rehearsal dinner is purposefully casual. However, the menu certainly requires careful selection. Perhaps there will be small flower arrangements on each table. When all planning is done, don’t be the bride who bosses the bridal party. They’ve been through enough. You’ve probably picked their dresses, hairstyles and seating arrangements. Let them live a little at this dinner. It’s their time to spill embarrassing stories without remorse. Essentially, the rehearsal dinner is a free pass.

Don’t overthink your glam plan.

Rehearsal dinners are intimate and calm. The wedding day is grand and pleasantly chaotic. Therefore, I have reconsidered wearing heels to the gathering. I may have my hair (professionally) thrown up with minimal makeup. While I still want to look like the bride, there is something special about saving the glitz for the white dress. The wow factor should be reserved for the wedding day.

Lastly, the bride has a bedtime.

When the final bite of dessert has been consumed, it’s the bride’s cue to say goodnight. Most likely, the groomsmen will just be beginning their night. It’s almost like a second bachelor party for the men. The bride, however, needs to prioritize beauty sleep over anything else remotely tempting.


Rehearsal dinner = rest for the bride.

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Wedding Etiquette- Tone down the Toasts

Every wedding I have attended has been sweet, loving and full of heartfelt expressions from enthusiastic guests. Of course, sometimes there are trivial comments from certain attendees, and the only one I’ve ever made was to shorten the toasts!

Although I enjoy tearing up from the emotional parents of the bride and groom and perhaps one or two from the wedding party, when everyone and anyone makes a toast there’s less time to enjoy the reception and hit the dance floor. Sometimes it becomes harder to participate in the wedding when you don’t have hold of the microphone. And most times, it’s better if you think twice before taking the microphone.

Here are some tips from a bride-to-be who has listened to one too many painful wedding speeches that have unintentionally bored the crowd. For our wedding, which is quickly approaching (less than 200 days away), I am suggesting that our friends and family tone down the toasts.

Speak from the heart…with a notecard

Although I happen to love impromptu thoughts and good wishes, sometimes having a few key words or perhaps a phrase written on a notecard can save the speech from taking an embarrassing turn. With that said, notecards are lightweight, expected and understood as a helpful resource when the spotlight is suddenly shining on a timid bridesmaid in front of three-hundred guests.

Here’s a big one: keep your iPad out of sight. I once went to a wedding where the best man actually read his toast from his tablet. Although I’m not one to criticize technology, considering I take my phone just about everywhere, I do believe that paper is always more proper than staring at a screen.


If I had to do it over again, I would use a smaller notecard (big paper fail)!

Save the inside jokes for another occasion:

If the majority of the wedding party cannot relate to your speech some level, save the story for a personal card. While writing this post I thought back to one of my favorite films, Bridesmaids, where Annie and Helen engaged in a comedic duel over who knew the bride the best.


It’s not hard to genuinely regret your wedding toast.

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Here’s my suggestion: pop into a library or bookstore to explore old love sonnets and wedding poetry in preparation for your speech. Begin or conclude your toast with wisdom from famous poets and authors whose graceful words will capture what you truly intended to say. Even if you despised Shakespeare in college, he just might rescue you in front of an intimidating audience.

I have seen brides who restrict certain people from speaking. That’s not my style. If I chose someone to be a member of my wedding party, they share a piece of my heart and their words are truly appreciated and welcomed. However, in an effort to avoid lengthy toasts and draining the excitement out of other wedding guests, I am suggesting splitting up the speeches between the rehearsal dinner and reception.

Are brides-to-be in agreement with my plan?

I believe that toasts are essential to weddings, if and only if they can be toned down!

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